A Perfect Storm ruined a Perfect Night for Hokie Fans
The Kroger Roth Report
September 1, 2000

Well, now that you've dried out, cooled off, and re-charged your batteries, you should be ready to rejoin the legion of Virginia Tech faithful who will reconvene in Collegetown, USA this Saturday for another Hokies' football season opener.

Since last Sunday night's affair in Blacksburg was merely a dress rehearsal, Tech's official 2000 season opener will be against Akron and not Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets first ever visit to Blacksburg will be a night to remember, although - as we all know - the ball never left the tee of Hokies' kicker Carter Warley.

Before Sunday night, you had the feeling the Georgia Tech game would be one to remember. The atmosphere in Lane Stadium was - no pun intended - electric and you could sense something really terrific was going to happen down on Worsham Field.

My color analyst, Mike Burnop was in midseason form, having downed a half-dozen chocolate chip muffins, two helpings of barbecue, a delicious two-foot sub from Texas Steakhouse, and handful of grapes during the pre-game show alone. Then it happened.

We thought we were about to broadcast a football game on the radio.

Instead, we were starring in Perfect Storm II and I was George Clooney.

In the original, Clooney and his team of fisherman buddies fight - and eventually lose - a battle with a mega-storm in the north Atlantic. In the movie, which is based on a true story, there was a lot of rain, a lot of wind, and a lot of lightning. Not dissimilar from what he had in Blacksburg on Sunday.

In the sequel, Lane Stadium replaced the Atlantic Ocean and our radio booth replaced the Andrea Gail, Clooney's boat. Now ISP Sports, being the wonderful company it is, had purchased all new radio gear for the Tech network this season and this was the first game it would be used.

New headsets, new mini-disc players, new microphones, new cables. Even a brand-spankin' new ISDN codec (If you care about this inverse multiplexing stuff, drop me a note).

And now before kickoff, the lightning is flashing and the rain is blowing in the booth - all over the virgin radio gear. If you're wonderin', high-end radio broadcasting gear, lots of water, and gazillion volts of electricity from a lightning bolt do not mix.

"Geez marie, we spent $25,000 on new radio gear and it's gonna get fried before we even kickoff the season," I told Mike.

The tarp used to cover the stuff was blowin' in the wind like a torn-away jib.

The water, now inches deep, was about to overtake the booth.

Even our brand new Apple PowerBook, used for our stat man, Carter Myers, was in serious jeopardy of floating away.

We take every precaution to prevent this kind of stuff. Tarps, covers, etc. But this was too much water, and too much lightning.

"Am I at any risk standing here with these wires wrapped around my feet and this thing (a headset) around my ears?" asked BIG EAST Associate Commissioner John Paquette, who joined us for a brief interview before the game was called.

He knew the answer.

Heck yeah, he was. So were the other 56,000 folks who were sitting in Lane Stadium when the lightning cracked overhead.

In the end, we lost only our television monitor to the water and the lightning strikes didn't cause any bodily harm in the crowd. For that ,we should all be thankful.

Yeah, the parking lots were a mess and it was a crowded, unbearable mob scene underneath the bleachers. There was a lot to overcome, but Hokies always have overcome stuff like this.

Remember Starke, Florida - that small town between Jacksonville and Gainesville where 20,000 Tech fans sat in traffic before the 1994 Gator Bowl? You waited through that.

Heck, Hokie fans waited 94 years before their team finally won a bowl game.

They waited patiently before the BIG EAST finally offered an all-sports home.

And now, after sitting, sloshing, and soaking through Sunday night's fiasco, you have to wait one more week before seeing the 'real' season opener.

Be thankful nobody was hurt and hope the Hokies - and the weather - will be in fine form this week.

And when Perfect Storm comes on HBO sometime, you'll be able to watch it and say "Hey, I've been through that same storm - August 27, 2000 in Blacksburg."

Thoughts and notes from week 1

Although the real season doesn't begin until Labor Day Weekend, there sure were some interesting games last weekend.

Penn State - like Tech - is trying to replace two stud defenders (Courtney Brown and LaVar Arrington) and its kickers and snappers. The inexperience showed in a brutal 29-5 loss to Southern Cal. PSU is out of the Associated Press poll for the first time since 1992 and doesn't have the look or feel of a typical Joe Paterno team. The snaps rolled to the punter on several occasions, which never happens up there. Scary thoughts for PSU fans with a daunting Big Ten schedule looming.

  • Speaking of PSU's departure from the poll, when is the last time Penn State and Notre Dame were among 'others receiving votes' in the same week? Those are two notable omissions from the AP poll.

  • Meanwhile, either BYU's rush defense is much improved or Florida State's running game is non-existent. We'll know more this week. But a year ago, Virginia and Thomas Jones marched through BYU's defense with ease, prompting most folks to assume FSU would do the same on its home field in Tallahassee. Instead, the Cougars stuffed the run and had FSU stymied offensively. If BYU can do the same at Charlottesville on Saturday, the Cougars might pull off an upset of Virginia. Or if it's FSU's rushing game that is weak, the 'Noles aren't the No. 2 team in the country.

  • There were probably 15,000 cars at Lane Stadium on Sunday and the one that gets zapped by lightning belongs to ESPN's Lee Corso.

"A few years ago, some folks around here would've been happy to see that," Tech coach Frank Beamer joked about the incident. Back in 1995, Corso was a non-believer about the Hokies' program until they beat Texas in the Sugar Bowl. He's been a pro-Tech guy ever since.

"Lee is a good friend of our program and it's been great to have him and the GameDay crew here so often," Beamer said.

A tip of the hat to Advance Auto Parts

You've heard their ads on the Tech Radio Network and seen their TV spots on Virginia Tech Sports Today. Their logo is all over Lane Stadium, including a huge ad on the new scoreboard next to the replay screen. Advance Auto Parts has done a wonderful job of tying its sports marketing to the Hokies' bandwagon and the support has been very beneficial to Tech's program over the years.

Be sure to stop by your local Advance Auto Parts store and sign up for the Hokies' Football Fantasy Sweepstakes. You could be an honorary head coach for the Tech game with Temple at Lane Stadium. It's the first of several great prizes Advance is giving away this season. With their world headquarters in Roanoke, it's not surprising the Advance Auto Parts people are great Hokie supporters.

The Roth report appears weekly in hokiesports.com-the newspaper and is posted for the general public on hokiesports.com.

The opinions expressed here are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Virginia Tech Athletics Department, hokiesports.com, or it's advertisers.